Failures of application

by Captain Walker

Categories: CW

This is about failures to apply what is known, what has been learned and appreciated – and things of that nature. Why is that important to anybody you may ask – and as you are about to move on swiftly to the next webpage or whatever, you must know that you are exactly the sort of person this applies to.

Failure of application of anything known that is acknowledged as valuable, is a serious failure. What are some of the things that people and organisations fail to ‘apply’?

  1. Lessons learned
  2. Core principles and standards
  3. Logic
  4. Good experience and expertise
  5. Timely investments/reactions
  6. Manpower
  7. Knowledge

The list can go on much longer, the more I think about it but my intention is not to flood this post. I’m more interested in the effects of non-application. I’ll start with individuals. Nope – I don’t know who they are. You may assume that I could be speaking about my former self, if that pleases you.

Now assuming that information reaches a processing brain – a human brain – the big issue is whether the brain recognises patterns, and cross-references what is observed against what is in it’s store of knowledge. Having done so, the mind that lives within that brain, has to overcome several obstacles before it takes action. The mind is a delicate thing being affected by several physical and non-physical things. I’ll focus on the non-physical:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Fear or shock
  3. Confusion
  4. Information overload
  5. Internal conflict
  6. Unconscious factors/anchors
  7. Social and cultural influences

.. and as usual the list could go on.

Today I’ll focus only on logic – as the area where most minds fail to ‘apply’. I’ll give a practical example.

Two people are walking together on paved surface on the side of a street. One (A) is a smoker and the other (B) isn’t. The smoker passes a bin by about 10 seconds, and stubs out the end of their cigarette on the ground. The conversation goes like this:

B: You can’t do that.. that’s antisocial!

A: [Now in a defensive tone] Well what am I supposed to do? I’ll stub it out in a bin when they supply enough bins.

A and B pass by another bin, 10 seconds later, where the cigarette could have been stubbed out but nothing is said.

A day later B admits it was wrong to stub out cigarettes on the street, for the reasons given and draws on ethical principle that was well, known before the situation had arisen. 

I suggest that this simple example above is enough to show how the mind works or doesn’t – how it ‘applies’ what it knows or doesn’t. Surely, we can see that A was knowledgeable of the ethical reasons for not littering beforehand. However, when confronted with a judgemental statement a such as “that’s antisocial”, the mind reacts to defend immediately i.e. to dismiss, shift responsibility elsewhere, to justify or to minimise. The ‘shock’ to the system of the confrontation has thrown the mind into turmoil internally – when the mind had referenced immediately what the action was, against the ethical principle. But at the time of being confronted, instead of immediately responding so as to admit error, the mind has directed itself to ‘cover’ the matter. In effect the ‘application’ of the ethical principle is delayed or suspended.

From the above kind of example it is easy to see that if the mind is startled, the application of principles from knowledge is interfered with.

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